Shrugging off a veto threat by President Bush, the Senate passed an appropriations bill yesterday that restores major cuts to an anti-crime program that Bush has sought to virtually eliminate, the Associated Press reports. The Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program was established under the Clinton administration and is a favorite of lawmakers, especially Democrats, for the grants it doles out to local police departments for hiring grants and new equipment. COPS would receive $660 million. All told, Senate Democrats proposed $2.8 billion in grants for state and local law enforcement. Bush proposed slightly more than $1 billion, and just $32 million for COPS, perhaps the most popular.
“What we did restored $1.5 billion so that we could have cops on the beat, so that we could have money to fund local law enforcement for technological upgrades and the equipment we need to protect them,” said Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), sponsor of the measure. The figures must be reconciled with those passed by the House. Bush promises to veto the overall measure, which is more than $4 billion higher than his requests. Bush sought to cut more than $1.5 billion from COPS and other grant programs for state and local criminal justice agencies, including Byrne grants that are often earmarked back to senators’ states for myriad purposes, including after-school programs, legal aid, prisoner rehabilitation and locating missing children, among many others. Some Republicans say the grants are often little more than a slush fund for local law enforcement agencies. During the Clinton administration, Republicans controlling Congress tried to roll back grants to local law enforcement, with mixed success.